Site Name: Rochonvillers (Maginot Line Gros Ouvrage
and later nuclear command bunker)
Thionville Fortified Sector
kM north east from Angevillers Church
RSG site visit 5th May 2003
OUVRAGE OF ROCHONVILLERS is the most northerly fort in the 'Thionville Fortified
Sector'. It's located 10 kM north west of Thionville on military land close to
fully manned the fort had a compliment of 782 troops. Artillery included three
135 mm heavy mortars in retractable turrets and the fort also boasted the largest
block anywhere on the Maginot Line, Block 5, which took 6,000 cubic metres of
concrete to build it. It was armed with three 75 mm guns and one 135 mm heavy
mortar. Although several similar sized casemates were planned no others were built
so this one is unique. This is an unusually large fort with 5 artillery blocks
and 3 infantry blocks and tunnels stretching 2,500 metres from the munitions entrance.
the war the fort was retained by the army and during the 1980's was converted
into a nuclear protected underground control centre, remaining operational until
1998. Visits to the bunker have always been declined in the past but on 15th May
2003 a party from Subterranea Britannica were permitted to visit and photograph
the bunker which is still under the control of the Metz Garrison.
we first looked at the munitions entrance block from outside the perimeter fence
in 2000, the French flag was still flying and there were several cameras trained
on the entrance gate to the fenced enclosure. When we drove past two years later
the flag had gone and the cameras looked as if they were no longer in use. Our
army guide, a Lieutenant from Metz Garrison came into the bunker with us and stayed
there throughout the two hour visit, but we were able to wander round freely and
photograph anything we saw. |The
munitions entrance in the 1940's
We went in through
the old men's entrance, which was rebuilt during the modernisation with a blast
wall added in front of the entrance forming a covered entrance porch. Soil has
been piled over the bare concrete of the block and the whole structure has been
painted in camouflage colours. The munitions entrance has been modified in a similar
way with a large steel blast door allowing vehicles to drive into the block.
men's entrance has a steel grille and behind it a smaller blast door. Once through
the door there is a security post with a bank of TV monitors for the CCTV cameras
and a large control panel. Beyond this a door on the right leads through an air
lock with two blast doors into the decontamination area. This is contained within
one of the infantry positions for the old fort.
A new lift has been installed
in the original shaft and the stairs around it have been renovated. The stairs
are now very damp and slippery, as are most of the floors throughout the bunker.
Since the ventilation has been turned off the bunker has been deteriorating and
will no doubt continue to do so unless a new owner can be found; the army is hoping
to sell the bunker. At the bottom of the stairs the main corridor runs northwards
into the bunker. The original narrow gauge tramway is still there but the overhead
traction cables have been removed and tubular ventilation trunking now hangs from
of the new Poyaud diesel generators
Photo by Nick
The first door on the left opens into the plant
area (Usine). The original generators have been removed and replaced with four
gleaming new Poyaud diesel generators with only 467 hours on the clock.
5 - The largest block on the Maginot Line
is the ventilation plant room, again the original equipment has been stripped
out and new fans and ventilation plant installed. Beyond this is the main control
room with its impressive operator's console where all the electrical systems throughout
the bunker were monitored and controlled. To the right is a long room with gleaming
racks of electrical switchgear along both walls.
Another chamber houses
the HV power equipment with gleaming yellow cabinets lined up along one wall.
more information and photographs click here
updated 12th June 2003 |
1998-2003 Subterranea Britannica